Posted on May 28, 2019
When people consider therapy, they’re often confused by psychological jargon or are unfamiliar with therapy techniques. Psychotherapy involves talking to a mental health professional about your thoughts and feelings, and there’re different kinds of therapy.
Understanding what are some of the most common therapy techniques can help you find the right match to a mental health professional who best suits your needs. Advekit can help you navigate through this process. Knowing more about the therapeutic technique that your therapist is using can also help you get more out of your sessions. The following is a list of therapy techniques that are commonly used today.
Any current list of therapy techniques would not be complete without mentioning eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a relatively new kind of therapy that’s becoming more popular to treat certain conditions and types of clients. In particular, EMDR has become a popular way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related diagnoses.
One session of EMDR therapy can last up to 90 minutes. You can expect your therapist to move their fingers in front of your face as you follow their movements with your eyes. While they’re doing this, the therapist will ask you to describe something that has happened to you that has been traumatic or very distressing. They’ll ask you to include descriptions of how you felt during that event and what kind of feelings in your body you felt.
As the session continues, your therapist will continue the technique while asking you to describe pleasant events. Note that before and after each session, your therapist will ask you to tell them how you feel. The intention is that you feel better about traumatic events in your life after each therapy session.
Research is being done to see if EMDR helps people with panic attacks, eating disorders, anxiety, and addictions. There is a debate about why the EMDR therapy technique works, but plenty of research has shown that it is helpful for people with trauma-based diagnoses.
Mindfulness-based therapy is a type of therapy that aims to help individuals learn to come to terms with their struggles and emotions. It’s commonly used to treat mental health concerns such as stress, depression, anxiety, and addiction. Mindfulness-based psychotherapy is not only talking about issues with the therapist, but it’s also about learning a new way to approach your life.
In mindfulness-based therapy, clients are encouraged to focus more on what they are thinking and feeling in the present moment and less on past events and future worries. Rather than try to change how a client is feeling or provide them a different perspective, this technique instead focuses on helping the patient to see their life more clearly and accept where they are.
Sometimes, mindfulness-based therapy is used in conjunction with stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, exercise, or yoga.
Play therapy is a therapy technique that’s usually used to help children between the ages of three and 12. Play therapy can be used for adults, but these cases are rare. Typically, play therapy takes place in a playroom that feels safe and comfortable. The therapist encourages the child to play freely and offers guidance or engagement only when necessary.
The goal of play therapy is to encourage kids to express themselves freely, to feel safe and respected. It gives therapists an opportunity to observe kids and pick up on how they relate to the world around them. Once therapists have a good understanding of what emotional or behavioral challenges a kid is struggling with, they can better help them improve their feelings or behaviors.
Play therapy is used to treat kids with social and learning problems. It is also common for treating children who have stress in their lives that might come from sickness and family changes, such as divorce, abuse, or otherwise.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has become one of the most widely used methods of therapy in recent years. Under the right circumstances, CBT can help an individual reduce stress, cope with life challenges, handle complicated relationships, deal with grief and loss, and approach their life in a healthier manner.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps the patient focus on the feelings and thoughts that motivate their behaviors. CBT is unique in that it’s based on the idea that how we react and respond to life’s events dictates how we feel an act. It asks that the client be more involved than in traditional therapy techniques and by the end of a course, the person learns how to become their own behavioral therapist.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally conducted within a set timeframe so an individual will know how long their therapy sessions will last. A common course consists of 20 sessions. This is in contrast to other therapeutic methods like psychodynamic therapy that leaves the duration of care open-ended.
Through various means, behavioral therapy aims to reshape the way that people respond to events in their lives. It has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders as well as helping people to feel better and live with less stress.
Narrative therapy is a unique kind of therapy that works by separating a person from their problems. The therapist works to help the client see their life as a collection of stories, which allows the client to see themselves as the main character.
By taking a step back, clients get to see their lives from a different perspective. Many of us know how much easier it is to give advice to a friend than it is to help ourselves with our own problems. In narrative therapy, clients get to see themselves and act as their own best friend. They come up with their own solutions to their problems so they can live the life and have the future they want.
Psychodynamic therapy is a therapy technique that is also referred to as insight-oriented therapy. This kind of therapy helps a patient understand how their past experiences influence their present behavior. This technique uses self-awareness to help the client pay attention to their subtle thoughts and behaviors they otherwise might not have noticed.
In a psychodynamic therapy session, therapists will help the client dive into their past to uncover difficult feelings that have come from unhealthy relationships or experiences. The therapist will help the client see how those past experiences have shaped their present behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Depending on the situation, the therapist might offer advice on how to change these behaviors.
Psychodynamic therapy is ongoing and some people have been in this type of therapy for years, making progress over time.
Gestalt therapy is a unique method of psychotherapy that helps clients move through their problems in the present moment. This method is all about the present experience. Rather than talking about problems that came up in the past, Gestalt therapy helps clients experience and move through their current difficulties This can be achieved through a number of different avenues including re-enactment.
Gestalt therapy is a great option for anyone who’s open to becoming more aware of the active role they play in their own unhappiness or difficulty via negative thoughts and actions. In this way, Gestalt therapy is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy. Oftentimes, Gestalt techniques are combined with other therapeutic methods including bodywork and activities, such as dance, drama, art, meditation, and yoga.
As you can tell, psychotherapy offers many different technique benefits that can help you with your specific needs.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.